Sunday, July 26, 2020

Day 4 - My Worst Garden Weeds

I'm not only doing tech - I also am a fan of gardening. Here's a list (partly for my own reference) of weeds I've had to deal with in our yard.

When we first moved in here, this stuff was all over the yard. It didn't take much to kill, just pulling it out and then using Round Up on any stragglers. This went from a roar to a few little sprigs in a year. I still pull them out before they make berries, so they don't have the chance to go crazy.

White Mulberry
I'm of two minds about Mulberry... they do make nice shady trees, can be cut back into topiaries, and as long as they're far enough from something they can foul, such as a house or driveway - you don't want to see what the rotting berries will do to a hard surface - they can be nice. The berries are delicious and it can be very prolific. They're easy to kill, just cut them to the ground and they don't generally come back. Pull out or cut down the sprouts when you find them.

Tree of Heaven
Another fast growing, if truly foul tree. I cut these out whenever I see them, and a little round up on the trunks prevents them from coming back.

Sweet Goldenrod
This stuff is everywhere. It self-seeds very prolifically. It's tough to contain without being very dutiful about weeding it out where you don't want it. That said, it smells nice and will grow where other things won't, and provides some late-summer interest when everything else is dying off.

Lesser Burdock
At first I considered this as being something deliberately planted, since the previous owners as gardeners tended to plant as deer-resistantly as possible. Before I learned what this was, I thought it was some kind of rhubarb, since the leaves had similar size and shape, but the stems never got as big as rhubarb. I leave this in a few places since it fills in dark spots nicely and chop off the burs before they drop.

This is the bane of my gardening life. The previous owner didn't do much to the yard, and that let this get a complete foothold. I've been battling this for three years - it is one of the most pernicious and invasive weeds around. It drops berries that are very fecund, spread by birds, dropped where they are, they grow insanely fast into trees which are very difficult  to kill, and are some of the most allelopathic (natural herbicidal) things I've seen. If you don't nip this shit in the bud as hard as you can, it will kill everything else in your yard. Any larger (>1' width) trees I've had to gird and tried several different herbicides on the stump to prevent it from regrowing. The only thing I've found as a sure-kill has been Tricopyr, after a year of trying Round-Up and having to gird several of the bigger trees two and three times. I've gotten so far as removing all the tree-sized monsters and monthly round-up every single sprig I see coming up. I fear this is becoming a losing battle because the yards behind me have let several large buckthorns grow into trees that are persistently dropping berries into my yard. Terrible shit!I'm sorely tempted to go out one late night and use a hand saw to kill it all in the surrounding yards. 

Canadian Thistle
The first year we were here this had completely taken over our back yard gardens. It's been pretty easy to kill with persistent ripping them out and using Round-Up on bigger clusters. This is probably the first one I've seen in two years.

Mock Strawberry
This has been hovering at the edge of a wooded area in my yard and I've just resigned to watch it - it doesn't seem especially invasive but it has been forming pretty dense clusters.

Ground Ivy
This is everywhere. I could go on an herbicidal tear getting rid of this, but I decided to run an experiment instead - overplant white clover everywhere in the lawn and let the clover and everything else duke it out. 

This is a new one in my yard - several large clusters of this popped up this year. I seem to recall planting it the first year we were here, but then didn't notice any growing. This year it went gangbusters! Gilligan has been thrilled.

The other thing that's generally considered a weed that I've enlisted to help is White Dutch Clover. I've gotten past the whole 'perfect lawn' lie and want my yard to be much more resilient than the monoculture of fescue. The last two years I've overplanted 10 lbs of white clover, and this year it's really starting to show. My grass is greener than it's ever been and stays lush even in the rain doldrums usual around late July, early August. I'd inoculated the clover with the bacillus they offered and the clover has shown up in all parts of the yard. 

In the very back of our yard there's a somewhat old Ash tree that had mulch applied under it in a 10 yard circle, and that mulch had lost its effectiveness and was succumbing to weeds. Three years ago, I cut down the weeds as hard as I could, raked up and discarded what was left of the mulch, disturbed the dirt with a rake and seeded it heavily with white dutch clover. It completely took over and overcrowded out all of the remaining weeds, and that experiment led me to try overplanting it in the rest of the yard's lawn. There's a school of thought that the nitrogen fixation characteristic of clover will reduce the nitrogen hunger of normal grass. So far this year, the second year of overplanting it, that school seems to achieved its goal - I put down no fertilizer and the grass is greener, although that also partly owes to the leaves of the much-hardier clover being much more prominent. I kinda love it so far. The clover never grows so tall as to shade the grass, and it's been very tolerant of weekly mowing.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

So you're using Slackware to avoid systemd... Day 3

Good! Sadly, with the way things like Firefox and others are going in requiring PulseAudio behind it to play sound, you may still feel stuck with Poettering's malignant software empire.


You can run Slackware without PulseAudio - using apulse. apulse is a hack - a wedge library that provides a fake PulseAudio sink that programs that only seem to want PulseAudio can use, that dumps the audio data directly to ALSA. There are a few caveats - apulse provides nothing but a sink, and duplicates none of the other functions PulseAudio has usurped, so things (such as the KDE  volume control system tray item :( ) don't work as they should. It's ok, the command line alsamixer works fine still for volume control. I haven't found a program yet that really complains that much about it or at all. 

Once you've slackbuilt it, uninstall the distro pulseaudio package before you install apulse. It's also best to drop to init 3 and kill the pulseaudio daemon before you uninstall it.

% killall pulseaudio

systemd/pulseaudio evangelists or sealions in the comments will be deleted.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Day 2 - Link Dump!

I think I'll do this periodically. My pinboard gets full quickly and there's some really interesting stuff to go back to.

Useful Tech Stuff
  • Nitter - browse twitter without garbage
  • Invidious - watch youtube without tracking and other garbage
  • Plain Old Recipes - extract recipe text from recipe sites without all the ad/jumping around/click-behind bullshit
  • Open Broadcaster Software Studio - OSS suite for video recording and live streaming
  • Energized Protection - comprehensive host blocklists for spy/ad/porn/etc 
  • ShareDrop - super useful peer-to-peer, anonymized live file transfers
  • - another peer-to-peer file transfer page
  • ffmpegfs - FUSE filesystem for media file conversions. I've started thinking there isn't any problem you can't solve with a FUSE filesystem. Creating even more problems! But seriously, s3fs and sshfs are some of the things I always put on a fresh linux install
  • Project Gemini - Someone wants to resurrect gopher!
  • adservers.txt - another list of ad servers, useful for DNS blackholing
  • Wide-band WebSDR - located in the Netherlands, fun to play with 
  • CanaryTokens - tripwires to set around random places that let you know when people are where they shouldn't be
  • Monitoror - pretty host monitoring. I wrote something like this in perl with more comprehensive plugins, but this one's pretty good
  • posthaven - theoretically 'forever' blog hosting
  • Retroshare - peer-to-peer all-in-one social sharing
  • Aether - peer-to-peer ephemeral public communities. Probably where the nazis go when they get kicked off of facebook/twitter/reddit
  • perlwm - X11 window manager written entirely in perl!
  • BASH quick reference
  • My Little BBSing Resource Page - BBSes still exist!
  • Linux ThinkPad Wiki - sadly dated, but I ran across this while wrangling with my Lenovo Legion Y530, might prove useful if you want to run older laptops
Useful Life Stuff

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Not a bad habit. Day 1

I'm going to try out the 100daystooffload thing, because things aren't probably going to get better for at least that long.

Got Rid of Windows

The most recent Edge Browser snake-install that popped up a window that had no obvious way to close was the last straw for me - I had originally bought a Thinkpad Legion Y530 to experiment with the Oculus SDK, and told myself I'd stick with Windows 10 for the mean time. Initially, I attempted to create a dual-boot, with Win 10 on one and Slackware on the other partition. Slackware 14.2's X11 version is a little behind - so I recompiled from scratch something more recent and since the laptop has an NVidia chip in it I thought it'd be easy once I had some more modern drivers in it. Oops! That was not the case at all. The Thinkpads have the Intel-With-NVidia-Overlay setup where the Intel video chip does 2d & everything else, and overlays the NVidia output on the main screen. I just couldn't get it to go into X11 mode after several hours of work, updating practically everything including the kernel & mods and most of the X11-related libraries, and installing NVidia's non-GPL driver. I gave up at the time and wiped it to go back to Windows 10 thinking I'd just tolerate it. So many obnoxious things eventually tipped my hand. I read up on using Slackware-current via some of the liveslak disk images, and the most bleeding edge one with Plasma5 as of late June this year booted into X11 effortlessly. Happily, there's a "setup2hd" script that pretty much drops a full Plasma5 version of Slackware-current on your hd. Score! After one false start using slackpkg to update everything and not realizing it defaults to the generic kernel setup instead of huge (Why would anyone not use huge kernel these days?) I had to learn some of the internals of GRUB and ELILO to fix it, and it's running swimmingly now. It recognizes 99% of all the hardware on the laptop - display switch, function keys, etc. It seems to last longer on battery now than when it was running Win10, which was unexpected.

It's not a bad thing that I've always built stuff from scratch or used slackbuilds, but slackpkg sure does make things easier at times. The next major release of Slackware, I think I'll wipe my main desktop and only use slackbuilds/slackpkg (or build slackbuild-style builds) so it's easier to manage and things like rebuilding ffmpeg to the latest version doesn't break half of my AV software.

Just Finished Reading: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
Still Reading: Shockwave Rider by John Brunner, Every Tool Is A Hammer by Adam Savage